Will China Supply Arms to Russia in Ukraine War during 2023?
resolved Jan 8
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Pros and Cons:

  • Pro

    • Evidences has shown that China has been sending Russia bullet-proof vest, optics scope, drones and helicopters.

    • China is likely operating with possible deniability as most of these stuffs are dual-use, ie can be used for civilian.

    • Trade stat shown arm/ammunition export from China to Russia has doubled in 2023 compared to 2021.

  • Con

    • I expected if China does seriously arm Russia, the US administration will likely know and retaliate on it, as they have threaten. So far it has been pretty muted. Can it be that US is trying to remain strategically silent on this?

    • As mentioned in earlier comment, this market concerns lethal arm specifically.

predicted NO

@footgun I think China has been very careful in sending support but not crossing the line into sending lethal aid. Which is what I was betting on

predicted NO

@WieDan As in I thought it was explicit dual use stuff did not count.

predicted NO

@footgun Dual-use equipment should NOT count. Ukraine imports plenty of its hardware from China as well, such as DJI drones. Be careful with selective interpretations. There's a reason US and EU have not accused China of directly aiding Russia, it's because they haven't.

predicted NO

@PlainBG exactly seems weird to be conflicted here it's pretty clear

I will resolve this to NO in a week if no one objects.

Feel free to present argument for and against this resolution.

predicted NO

@footgun my only objection is that a week is too late to count for the leagues lol

predicted YES

@footgun According to statistics published by the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China http://english.customs.gov.cn/Statics/8617f901-fe81-4d92-94e3-c56236884ad2.html China exported $5.296 million worth of Harmonized System Chapter 93 goods to Russia from January to November 2023. Chapter 93 covers "Arms and ammunition; parts and accessories thereof."

@Yorwba Good find. I went to check the stat my self. Comparing 2021 and 2023:

Interesting, the export amount in RMB has doubled comparing 2023 to 2021...

China officially? Or just waiving their companies do it? Through middlemen countries? Please specify.

bought Ṁ500 of YES

Ramzan Kadyrov shows off brand new Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles Manufacturing Co. "Tiger" vehicles from China, for use in the Special Military Operation


bought Ṁ100 of YES

For those interested, here is one of the customs documents the politico article is based on:


Note that the last shipment was 12/31/22 (!!!) and that this is part of a dataset that has not yet been made more broadly available by Import Genius, leading me to believe that their datasets are in arrears and that it will be highly likely for January imports to turn up once they have 2023 data in hand.

Go buy that YES!

@AlQuinn Are these body armours? Do you have a similar dataset for lethal arms? Like rifle or bullets. I am curious to see when those stopped.

predicted YES

@footgun Yes, that was body armor. Here are the hunting rifles:


May & June. The China North data line is missing the country of origin...oops, hope they didn't get fined for that.

Don't know about the "drone parts" though.

Would the body armor not qualify as "arms" for the purposes of this question?

predicted YES

@footgun oh, and July. Those first two lines say Country of Origin = RU but Origin Country is CN. Then for another line, they don't use the ISO code "CN" for china but instead spell it out: КИТАЙ. Whoever does their paperwork should be fired.

@AlQuinn I was thinking lethal arms particularly, as in the link in the description you could see that the “red line” of concern is lethal arms.

Philosophically I agree that body armour can probably help keep the aggression going as well as rifles. But weapons that kill and harm will be a different optics and consequences. Hence it also means that China is willing to accept them and commit to another level.


I think this discussion also shows the difficulty of writing good forecast question:

  • To attract trader and attention, it helps that the question is brief, general and quickly written after key event

  • To avoid ambiguity, it helps that the question is specific, detailed, and avoid edge case

For example, this question could well be split into several, each regarding tank/missile/gun, but then each will have much less liquidity and hence less accurate and meaningful. A general question is a better schelling point.

I don’t have a silver bullet for this. Hence I think it is important to keep the discussion civic and generally focus on truth-finding rather than word-playing.